Hundreds of millions of turkeys will become the centerpiece of traditional feasts on Thursday — and more than a few of those turkeys will result in calls not of celebration, but for the fire department.“The number of cooking fires is three times the average on Thanksgiving,” Lorraine Carli, vice president of outreach and advocacy for the National Fire Protection Association, said. That makes the holiday the most dangerous, in terms of cooking fires, day of the year.“As people go to great lengths to prepare holiday meals, following a few basic safety tips when cooking will reduce their chances of having a fire,” Carli said.
Homes with electric ranges have a higher risk of fires than those with gas stoves, the NFPA found in a review of fire statistics between 2007 and 2011; 98.7 percent of U.S. households had either a gas or electric stove in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.“Most home fires happen when cooking is left unattended,” added Carli. “Be sure to stay in the kitchen if you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you are simmering, baking roasting or broiling food, remain in the home.”More than half of all home cooking fire incidents began in ranges, no matter the type, the NFPA said. Cooking equipment of all types caused 43 percent of reported home fires and 16 percent of home-fire deaths in the same period.
It’s easy to become distracted from cooking with a houseful of guests, Indiana State Fire Marshal James Greeson said.
He offered some tips on improving Thanksgiving meal preparation safety:• Someone should always be in the kitchen while food is cooking; if it’s necessary to leave the room, turn off the stove.• Keep flammable objects, such as oven mitts, utensils, food packages and towels away from the stove top.• Keep a lid nearby to smother small grease fires; using water to douse a grease fire will only spread the flames. Smother the fire, turn off the stove, and leave the pan covered until it is completely cool.• If a fire breaks out in the oven, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.• Have an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby, all around the year.• Deep-fried turkey is increasingly popular, but turkey fryers should always be used outdoors, and kept a safe distance from buildings and other flammable materials.
For more information about fire safety in the home, visit GetPrepared.IN.gov.